US RESPONDS TO CHINA'S NUCLEAR TEST China, defiantly rejecting Western pleas for a moratorium on nuclear testing, exploded its first device in a year on Oct. 5. China gave no details of the size of the device exploded underground in the province of Xinjiang, but stressed what it called the ``extremely limited'' nature of its testing program. President Clinton responded by directing the United States Department of Energy to prepare for a possible resumption of nuclear testing next year. A White House statement said the ``president's ultimate decision on whether to test will be based on US fundamental national-security interests.'' L.A. officer heads to jail

The US Supreme Court on Oct. 4 refused to let former Officer Laurence Powell stay out of prison on bail while he appeals his conviction in the Rodney King beating, and the Police Department officially fired him. Mr. Powell, who claimed he did not pose a threat to the public and therefore should remain free, must start his 2 1/2-year sentence next week. Lawyers said he will probably complete his term before the appeal of his conviction is decided. Powell was suspended without pay shortly after the 1991 videotaped beating. Sgt. Stacey Koon, convicted with Powell of violating Mr. King's civil rights and sentenced to the same term, made a similar request of the Supreme Court. His lawyer said he expected a decision by Oct. 8. Strategic town recaptured

Georgian government troops have recaptured the strategic town of Khoni from rebel forces and repelled an attack at a crucial crossroads, the Defense Ministry said Oct. 5. Khoni and the town of Vani were taken Oct. 3 by rebel forces loyal to ousted President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The towns are strategic because they are near Kutaisi in western Georgia, the nation's second largest city. There was little resistance when government forces recaptured Khoni. Korean talks stall

The first direct talks between North and South Korea in nine months bogged down Oct. 5 as the North revived conditions, which it had previously dropped, that the South cease military exercises with the United States and kick US forces off its soil. Information access eased

The Clinton administration has revoked a 12-year-old restriction on the Freedom of Information Act in what it says is a move to make more information available to the public. ``Federal departments and agencies should handle requests for information in a customer-friendly manner,'' President Clinton said Oct. 4 in a statement. ``Our commitment to openness requires more than merely responding to requests from the public.'' Justice Department officials said the administration is rescinding a 1981 rule that let federal agencies withhold information whenever they could show ``a substantial legal basis.'' The new policy presumes that information should be made public, the department said. Money for Hubble repair

The US government is getting back some of the money it is spending to repair the nearsighted Hubble Space Telescope. The Justice Department announced Oct. 4 that it had reached a $25 million settlement with the Perkin-Elmer Corporation and its new owner, Hughes Danbury Optical Systems, a subsidiary of Hughes Aircraft Company. The $2 billion telescope was launched in April 1990. Two months later, scientists discovered that the primary mirror was incorrectly formed. NASA plans a repair mission later this year. Hughes agreed to the settlement, a company statement said, ``to avoid the time, expense, and business disruption of a potential Hubble-related lawsuit.'' Under the terms of the settlement, neither Perkin-Elmer nor Hughes admitted liability for any defect. Priest pleads guilty

During his trial in New Bedford, Mass., a former priest admitted on Oct. 4 that he molested 28 children at three Massachusetts parishes in the 1960s. James Porter pleaded guilty to 41 charges, including 27 counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. He could be sentenced to up to 200 years in prison Dec. 6. Prosecutors said 125 men and women had come forward, willing to testify that Mr. Porter had molested them.

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